Resembling Rajasthan’s 1730 Chipko movement for forest conservation, residents of Delhi on Monday staged a protest against cutting of thousands of trees under Centre's redevelopment project in Sarojini Nagar, Nauroji Nagar and Netaji Nagar areas of the national capital.
People demonstrated their protest by hugging trees, taking inspiration from the Chipko movement in which 363 locals sacrificed their lives in a bid to save their jungles.
Several people in Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar were seen holding placards with messages against deforestation and hugging trees. Soon, #DelhiChipkoAndolan started trending on Twitter India.
Aam Aadmi Party MLA from Wazirpur Rajesh Gupta also posted a picture of himself hugging a tree with a message that read, “This tree kept my father alive, its keeping me alive and it will keep my children alive. Why can’t we keep this tree alive?”
In a time when the residents of the national capital were facing the hazardous level of pollution, the Central Government’s plan to cut nearly 17,000 trees for South Delhi’s redevelopment project irked strong reactions from the people of the city.
People also took on the Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri who tried to explain his government’s move to cut the trees and build government offices, flats and commercial spaces.
“There will not be one tree less than there are today & the green cover will be threefold. Mischief mongers are not able to identify or appreciate the facts & continue to misinform genuinely concerned citizens,” Puri tweeted with a link to Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry’s report.
However, a user didn’t find Puri’s explanation to cut 17,000 trees worthy and asked, “Why didn’t you consider to make accommodations in Dwarka or Rohini or outer Delhi minister Hardeep S Puri-ji? Don’t you think this project of yours is lethal & unreasonable?”
The question irked Puri who went on to suggest the user to check his tone and asked him not to take the liberty of being “offensive”.
“Be careful with your tone. Just because I am a public servant, you cannot take the liberty of being offensive. All this predates me. The decision taken will ensure that at no point of time will there be even one less tree in the area. Read r press release, if you have interest,” the minister responded back.
Puri’s response sought severe criticism on Twitter and several people expressed their anger against his tweet and the move to cut trees.
“Already pollution level in Delhi is high. Lakhs of people are leaving metro and travelling by buses because of high ticket prices. Cutting trees will make pollution more alarming. He should consult environment experts,” a user with twitter handle @AamIndian_1 replied.
The government, however, claims that it will plant saplings for every tree being cut for the development project. However, environmentalists claimed that planting saplings won’t be able to replace fully grown trees for years.
“These trees are decades old fully-grown trees that provide shade and curb pollution. A sapling will take years to grow into a tree that big and given climate change, chances of its survival are too low,” said Juhi Saklani, an environmentalist.